Women Take Charge of Their Health: Femtech Industry Booms, but Privacy Concerns Loom
Women’s health has long been underfunded and marginalized in the field of medical research and development. Despite women spending nearly twice as much on healthcare as men and often being the decision-makers for health-related matters, only 1% of funding is directed towards women’s health this year. However, a wave of female-led companies is now on a mission to address this significant imbalance.
Around a decade ago, Ida Tin, the co-founder of Clue, introduced the term femtech which stands for female technology. Clue, a pioneering company in this field, launched an app that tracks a woman’s menstrual cycle. Audrey Tsang, the co-chief executive of Clue, emphasized that vital health issues concerning women are being marginalized and underdiagnosed due to the lack of investment in research and development. She highlighted the urgent need for bridging the gaps in health equity through innovation and research.
Clue has made significant strides in femtech and recently raised €8.4 million in a fundraising campaign, with an astounding 86% of the investors being women. This unprecedented support reflects the growing interest and demand for women’s health solutions. Clue is just one example of the many companies driving the rapid growth of the femtech industry, which is estimated to reach $51 billion this year and is projected to triple to $103 billion by 2030.
While the rise of femtech has opened up conversations about women’s health and shattered taboos, it also raises concerns regarding privacy and trust. As women increasingly rely on technology for information, health management, and sexual well-being, femtech companies collect vast amounts of intimate data, which can be a goldmine for companies focused on data monetization rather than improving women’s health.
A recent study by the Mozilla Foundation sheds light on the challenges faced by femtech in terms of public trust, online advertising, and data protection. The study, which surveyed 1,000 women and femtech users in the UK, found that 82% of respondents were uncertain about how reproductive apps safeguarded their data. Additionally, over 60% expressed distrust in the apps’ ability to protect their privacy, leading 44% to delete apps due to privacy concerns.
The lack of government support and regulation in advertising pose additional obstacles for the femtech industry. To address these issues, there is a growing call for the development of new business models that do not rely on data monetization. Maintaining control over personal and intimate information is crucial for women’s safety, especially in vulnerable situations. Striking a balance between improved online protections and circumvention attempts is an ongoing challenge.
In the UK, three prominent trends are expected to emerge in femtech. Firstly, products and services will become more personalized and data-driven, thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning. This will provide women with accurate and tailored insights into their health and well-being. Secondly, there will be an increased integration of products and services, allowing women to holistically manage their health. Platforms may offer a range of solutions such as menstrual cycle tracking, fertility tracking, and contraception management.
As the femtech industry continues its impressive growth and evolution, it is vital to address and overcome privacy concerns. Building public trust and establishing clear data protection measures are key to the industry’s long-term success. Governments, regulators, and femtech companies must collaborate to ensure that women’s health remains a top priority. By safeguarding privacy and promoting innovation, the future of femtech holds the promise of improving women’s health and creating a brighter future for all.